In a few days, the ball drops, and the book closes on 2011. No doubt, many of you are planning on having huge New Year’s Eve parties. And many of you will drink during these parties. And for a few of you, this will happen:

(Of course there is a good chance that neither Chris nor Liam Hemsworth will be involved)

2011 was a banner year for the fighting genre. With [Ultimate] Marvel vs Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat 9, Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, King of Fighters XIII, and Dead of Alive Chronicles all hitting storeshelves this year, the genre has came back in full force. With Dead or Alive 5, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Skull Girls, Soul Calibur 5, and Street Fighter X Tekken hitting next year, the genre is only moving forward. This sequel to last year’s Christmas beatdowns will take a look back at the best (or at least underrated) and the worst of the fighting genre’s golden era. So without further ado, lets get to the beatdowns!

Maximum Letdown: Mace The Dark Age (N64, Arcade)
Hot on the heels of Namco’s SoulBlade, Mace had the perfect opportunity to become its evil twin (as well as being a successor to Midway’s Mortal Kombat), instead, it became a footnote in history due to it’s clunky play control. A demon known as Asmodeus wages war across Eurpoe in order to harness the dark energies of suffering, war, and despair. However, Europe isn’t wnough for the demon, as he sets his sights towards the east. Warriors from Europe, Arabia, The Orient gather to battle the demon, either looking to possess the dark power for themselves, gain revenge, or save the world from the demon’s grip. These characters include samurai, barbarians, and harem girls.

To the game’s credit, it had some nice graphics for its time, and there were some pretty cool secret characters, including a Janitor, a fighting Chicken, and a Mech made of barrels and powered by a dwarf. Of course, its too bad that the gameplay didn’t hold up. Then again, what could you expect from a Midway fighting game not named Mortal Kombat?

Maximum Letdown: Dragon Ball GT Final Bout (Playstation)
In the previous installment of Christmas beatdowns, I mentioned a Dragon Ball game that was released for the NES in North America, but not before the licensed was stripped from it. Nearly a decade later, we would get an actual Dragon Ball game that carried the Dragon Ball name. However, it wasn’t much better. Dragon Ball GT was actually based on the Dragon Ball GT series, which is the sequel to Dragon Ball Z, although the game features characters from both Z and GT. Although it would be the first Dragon Ball game released in America (and the first rendered in 3D), it would be the last Dragon Ball game released on Playstation, and the last console Dragon Ball game until 2002’s Budokai.

Final Bout is a half-assed attempt to bring the action of the anime to Playstation. However, the clunky play controls, lack of variety in attacks, bland backgrounds, and the extremely frustrating beam-battle mini game (which to it’s credit, was an early implementation of quick time events, as you had to enter a sequence in time) kill it dead in the water. The lack of character variety does little to help matters, as many of the unlockable characters are different versions of Goku. Despite it being an absolute crapfest, its limited print run saw the game being traded on Ebay for hundreds of dollars, at least until Atari re-released the game in 2004. Of course, it wasn’t any better then than it was in 1997. It’ll probably hit the PSN network if it hasn’t already, but who is going to care at this point?

Maximum Letdown: Star Wars Masters of the Teras Kasi (Playstation)
Like Dragon Ball, Star Wars is one of those franchises that is guarenteed to sell no matter what kind of game you make it into, whether it’s an MMORPG (Galaxies, the recently released Knights of the Old Republic), real time strategy (Empire at War), or Shooter (Battlefront). Sadly, this meant that the Star Wars name could be slapped onto pretty much ANYTHING. This is how we got force-fed Wii motion control games, Twisted Metal rip-offs, and this crapfest, Masters of the Teras Kasi. Taking place between episodes IV and V, the emperor hires assassin Arden Lyn to assassinate Luke and the other members of the Rebel Alliance as revenge for the Death Star’s destruction. However, Luke and his allies find out, and they decide to battle her, in a series of yes, one-on-one matches. Of course, you can go into battle as several Star Wars faves, such as Han Solo and Boba Fett. You can unlock Leia in her slave girl outfit (despite this game taking place between episodes 4 and 5). There is also lesser-known Mara Jade, who made her debut in a novel. The lackluster play control, small stages, crappy lightsaber action (remember, these blades can slick off limbs, so why do they suck in this game?), and crappier blaster action (why the fuck do you have to CHARGE your blaster IN A FIGHTING GAME?), aren’t even the worst parts of this game. That would be the fact that there is no Lando. Billy Dee Williams would have redeemed any faults this game had. If you must have the cast of Star Wars in a fighter, grab a copy of SoulCalibur 4, which has either Darth Vader or Yoda depending on whether you purchase it on PS3 or Xbox 360, and purchase the other guy for $5.

Lost Classics Street Fighter Alpha 2 (SNES)
That’s not a typo. This isn’t a Chinese bootleg, hack, unreleased ROM, or April fools prank. This is an honest-to-god port of Street Fighter Alpha 2 for Super Nintendo, and it was no less than a labor of love from Capcom. All the main characters are here (although there is no Evil Ryu or Special Sakura, and Shin Akuma can only be unlocked by an Pro Action Replay), all the moves are here, and all the backgrounds are here as well. Needless to say, the graphics and sound took some hits (frames of animation were cut, and there were load times), and there is no good reason to buy this is you had a Playstation or Saturn, but if you were hesitant to move on to the 32 bit era, companies like Capcom were still looking out for you.

Lost Classics: Bloody Roar (Playstation, Arcade)
Known as Beastorizer in the arcades, Bloody Roar had a novel concept (albiet one that pretty much asked for furry jokes): the Human fighters can transform into beasts during matches by filling up a meter. The storyline is your average battle between these human-animal hybrids (called zoanthropes) and the evil corporation that wants to control them. Characters range from wolves and lions to bunnies and lizards, so while some character designs are cool, others will no doubt emit a chuckle. The Playstation home releases of the first 2 games included two different soundtracks players could choose from, as well as a story mode featuring cinematics. Later installments, released on Xbox, Gamecube, and PS2 failed to attract the audience that the Playstation installments had. Bloody War was a solid game, but it was pretty much one of those games that fighting game fans would play while waiting for the next Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. Even so, you shouldn’t sleep on this. It’s available on the Playstation Network if you missed it the first time around.